Sweat unmoved by vaccine scientist

- Jarrett Bell

With less than half of his players vaccinated for COVID-19, Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera enlisted help this week with messaging he hopes will increase the numbers.

Kizzmekia S. Corbett, who was instrument­al in research that led to the developmen­t of the Moderna COVID19 vaccine and recently joined Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, spoke to players on Tuesday.

“She was outstandin­g,” Rivera said during a Zoom conference after a minicamp practice Wednesday. “Our players were engaged, they asked a lot of good questions. And off of that, we had several guys that are getting vaccinated and have gotten vaccinated because of that. Again, I think the big thing is we’ve got to be able to facilitate the opportunit­y for these guys to understand.

“There’s a lot of messaging out there. They get it off of Twitter, and some of it is good, some of it is bad. I’m not sure these guys watch the news as much as I do and try to gather enough informatio­n, but we are really trying to help them, because if we can get to that herd immunity, we can really cut it loose and really be able to spend time with each other.”

Rivera said every member of the coaching staff and all employees at team headquarte­rs are vaccinated. After getting through last season’s strict pandemic protocols, he is encouraged by the face-to-face contact with players in the meeting rooms and on the practice field as the league opens back up with fewer limitation­s. Yet asked to put a percentage on player vaccinatio­ns, he said, “I think we are nearing 50%,” which included a few vaccinatio­ns on Tuesday.

It doesn’t seem like an easy sell for players who have yet to be vaccinated. Defensive end Montez Sweat, despite the message from Corbett, still isn’t convinced he needs to be vaccinated.

“I’m not a fan of it at all,” he said during a Zoom conference. “I won’t get vaccinated until I get more facts.”

Never mind the havoc on society caused by the coronaviru­s, which included a disrupted NFL season.

“I haven’t caught COVID yet,” Sweat said, “so I don’t see me treating COVID until I actually get COVID.”

Therein lies another challenge for the NFL to navigate.

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